The wonderful world of keywords

Digital | 3 September 2013 |

As part of our ongoing redevelopment of UNU’s web magazine, Our World 2.0, the Office of Communications team has spent the past few weeks reviewing how we use keywords. Initially, we were guided by the University’s adoption of five thematic areas and thirty topics of focus. If you take a look at the University website you will find them used extensively as a content filtering tool for research programmes, publications and faculty.

Over the past couple of years, however, we have noted how some topics of focus have rarely been applied to our web content, suggesting that we are doing little research work in those areas. Examples include entrepreneurship, trade and housing. For Our World 2.0, which was developed long before the current UNU website, we had been applying keywords to our online content using a much more ad hoc method. This list of “tags” had grown to a massive 1,126, with many of these keywords only used once or a handful of times.

Clearly, we needed to do some tidying up, and the redevelopment of Our World 2.0 provided the perfect opportunity.

Based on the idea that the UNU needs to increase its relevance and visibility as a think tank for the UN system, the first thing we did was adopt the topics used on the UN website – which we modified slightly, settling on Peace and Security, Development and Society, Science and Technology, Humanitarian Affairs and Human Rights. We then reviewed all of the relevant UN “thematic issues” and the UN-defined “global issues.”

This gave us a much shorter list of keywords. Next, we reviewed the keywords most commonly used on the UNU website, as well as on Our World 2.0, and integrated them into a new list.

We decided that the names of people, projects, institutions and places (except geographical regions) would no longer be used as keywords. We know that if visitors to the magazine want to find out what we are doing in Japan, for example, all they need to do is use the (much improved) search function. However, we also have the capability to create a “series” in the magazine that can focus on contemporary affairs or important issues in a flexible manner.

Finally, we reassigned and deleted all of the old keywords (thanks to Daniel Powell for completing that task today) and that gave us a final list of 81 keywords.
We are going to be careful how we apply keywords to our online content from here on, but also we can constantly monitor, evaluate and make informed changes.